MAKING THE TEACHING PROFESSION A MORE REPUTABLE PROFESSION IN GHANA, THE FUNDAMENTAL ROLE OF THE TEACHER
As a developing country which considers education as the backbone of national development, the teaching profession should be seen as a gate way to realizing the dream of quality education that facilitates the very development we so yearn for. There cannot be quality education, an education that can produce quality human resource for this country, if we do not place premium on the vehicle of education which is the teacher. I'm always of the view that the teaching profession is the mother of all professions.
Government must do all it can to invest in the teaching profession by producing quality teachers, motivating them by giving them attractive incentives to keep them imparting knowledge to students. Since the teacher is absolutely indispensable in the delivery of education and in fact the final implementer of any educational policies, society must recognize the teacher as the most important agent of education. In all these, the teacher must know this first and contributes in that regards to making the teaching profession, a reputable one. As a passionate teacher, my views are gathered based on my seven year practice as a young professional teacher who aims becoming a unique model teacher in my society.
First and foremost, I have found out that we those in the teaching fraternity do not manage our time efficiently. Teachers particularly in the basic and second cycle institutions spend less than eight hours in school daily. The rest of the time is not effectively and efficiently utilized. Either we sit idle, roam about endlessly aimless or sit and drink in various drinking spots. That is affecting the ability of the teacher to engage in research, save and possibly engage in other business ventures to gain extra income to supplement the meager salaries. We must a matter of fact, examine our time again and look at how we can efficiently channel the extra time in the service, into productive areas in our lives. For instance, I know a teacher who is a fashion designer and can boast of about ten employees. He goes to his shop right after school and he is making a lot of gains. I think we should consider such teachers as role models who are able to combine professional work and personal life lucratively.
More importantly is our ability to demonstrate competence in our various schools. The saying that hard work pays is real. Competence is the only way of marketing our profession and the only standpoint to demand for better conditions of service. Indeed, the remuneration of teachers over the years has been very poor. It does appear that our negotiations always end in our disadvantage. This keeps on reoccurring for decades now and it is only fair that we change the methodology at the negotiation table by using higher productivity as our bargaining tool. That, we cannot do if we do not encourage our colleagues to give out their best even under the poor conditions of service. The truth is that many of our colleagues under the cover of poor conditions of service resort to unprofessional acts that directly and indirectly put the profession into disrepute, throwing away the nobility and reputation of this enviable noble profession.
In addition, discussing the personal life of teachers would be incomplete without touching on the way some teachers dress. Physical appearance by way of dressing tells a lot about your social status in the Ghanaian socio-cultural settings.
This notwithstanding, the dressing of some teachers is quite embarrassing and does not speak well for the teaching profession. It is very common to see some lady teachers with miniskirts, transparent trousers known in the fashion parlance as "skinny" and many others. In the some villages, some teachers wear anything to the class room just because the teaching profession has not standardized dress code. It is in lieu of this, that I am particularly an ardent proponent for a professional uniform for teachers as a panacea to indecent dressing among teachers. While the debate on inform for teachers lingers on, I urge teachers to take decent dressing very serious because it is the most fundamental ways of enhancing our reputation.
In addition, teachers are leaders of society and must act as such. The knowledge of teachers must not be limited to the classroom. There are several social impediments that teachers must join hands to ameliorate. Complicated social challenges like armed robbery, prostitution, sexual transmitted diseases and malaria, illegal mining among others can be fought better with partnership with people with diverse knowledge. The role of the teacher in approaching such issues is quite paramount considering the repertoire of knowledge of the teacher. Equally, teachers should speak on national issues. Contributing to national discourse is an essential component of professionalism. Over the years, many teachers do not update themselves with national issues and have been silent on critical national issues that require the contributions of professionals. The continuous silence of professionals in this country is what has led way to negative propaganda on our airways because so called political and social commentators have become jack of all trades and pretend to have a wide knowledge of different subject matters. This is very excruciating and spells doom of a country with abundant professionals.
One area that teachers must not be oblivious of is the fact that we are the final implementers of any educational policies but often times we sit aloof when such policies are subjected to public debate. The painful part is that most teachers grumble and murmur within the corridors of the classroom when policies put them at a disadvantage. We need to gather the courage, confidence and enthusiasm to contribute to national issues since policies affect us as citizens cum professionals whether directly or indirectly.
Moreover, most teachers have their rights infringed upon by superiors. This is because, in most cases, those teachers appear to demonstrate ignorance about their professional rights. We need to learn more about basic legal issues about the profession ranging from labor laws, code of ethics for teachers, conditions of service as well as the right of the child. The knowledge in these will go a long way to enable teachers act with confidence, enthusiasm and professionalism. It would also curtail the situation of intimidation, disrespect and maltreatment either by parents or superiors.
Lastly, we must all embrace and integrate technology into our teaching. A teaching without any knowledge of technology in modern times is like a body without head. Interestingly, many of us are hesitant in updating ourselves in this emerging technological world with sophisticated equipments and programs. Of course, we may not be professionals in technology but it is something we cannot do without. We still have a multitude of teachers who cannot primarily use a computer or a smart phone. How then can they integrate technology into our work? Beyond the capacity building workshops that are supposed to be organized occasionally to update us, we must be talking personal initiatives regularly so far as professional growth and development is concerned. In fact, one can use just the mobile phone for a lot of research but we still depend on limited white papers as the only reference materials. The worse of it all is that we the youth largely use smart phones in school rather use them to chat on social media, play music, watch movies and do unnecessary things while at work. This attitude of some teachers is causing lower productivity in schools since more time is spent on things that are irrelevant to our work.
In actual fact, we know that general leadership conundrum as well as lack of political commitment to transforming the teaching profession is a major blow to the profession over the years. However, we must in our individual capacities make the profession attractive and respectable. Without doing these fundamental things in our daily practice, others will continue to denigrate the teaching profession, the mother of all profession in the country. I urge the youth in the teaching profession to see the profession as a noble profession.
With our individual contributions, the teaching profession will one day be the best professions in Ghana. Yes we can!